Friday, January 22, 2010

Tomato Cream Sauce

My mom is a good cook. She is not, however, an adventurous one. She's always had about half a dozen dishes that she can knock out of the park, and just stuck with them. She hadn't bought a new cookbook in ages, and thus she has made her pasta sauce how she makes her pasta sauce (i.e. never the same way twice) and that is that. That is, until we were watching the Food Network down at my brother's house for Christmas, and Anne Burrell came on to show us how to make a bolognese sauce. My mother was entranced, and quickly became obsessed. And it's only gotten worse since Eric bought her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Mom has raved about that book so much that Anna and I thought we should just get it out of the library and see what the fuss was about. While we were waiting for the book to come in, Smitten Kitchen did a post on Marcela Hazan’s "basic" tomato sauce... and guess what? She raved about it too. So expectations were running a little high when we finally got our hands on the book.

As it happens, since I needed to go the doctor yesterday to make sure I wasn't dying (I wasn't! Yay!), that meant we were dangerously close to Dave's Fresh Pasta. So we picked up a pound of Dave's fresh porcini ravioli and a 28 ounce can of imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes. However, for filled pasta, instead of the basic tomato sauce, Marcela Hazan suggests a tomato cream sauce. Besides the cream, the main difference between the two recipes is that this one requires a food mill... a device that not every home cook has, but certainly should if they make sauce with fresh tomatoes with any regularity. I find it worth $50 to not have to make tomato concasse in those situations, but YMMV.

  • 3 tablespoons each of finely minced carrots, celery, and onion
  • 2.5 cups of whole canned tomatoes and their juice
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
I used shallots instead of onions and I just used the whole can of tomatoes (3.5 cups) and minced a bit more of the aromatics to compensate. I didn't up either the cream or the butter, however, since some of us are having enough trouble fitting into our clothes as it is.

Everything but the cream goes into the pot to gently simmer for 45 minutes. Stir it occasionally, and make sure those tomatoes are breaking down by smashing them against the side of the pot.

Now put it through your food mill your sauce into another pot and bring it back up to a simmer. Stir in your cream and keep stirring for a full minute. Season to taste and you are done. Be sure to toss your ravioli (or whatever) with a little butter before saucing them.

And wow was it good.

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